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Lockout Deemed Legal Upon Appeal

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals issued it's ruling on the lockout today, backing the NFL's stance and overturning Judge Susan Nelson's initial ruling. This decision by the appeals court was not unanticipated, as two of the judges on the 3-judge panel had already spoken publicly during their temporary stay of the lockout, and their comments at the time made it seem likely they would rule the same way during the final decision.

In essence, the appeals court ruled that whether the NFLPA decertified or not, the owners still had the right to lock out their employees, and that the Norris-LaGuardia Act still applied, which prevents federal courts from intervening when management and labor are at an impasse. The NFLPA's arguement was that because they had decertified, that Act no longer applied, but that arguement was ultimately rejected.

What does this mean for the fans? For us very little should change. The lockout continues, but now the players have less leverage during negotiations. If the NFL wanted to, it could likely keep the lockout in place until some time in 2012, which is the earliest that a full trial about the merits of the lockout could be held. This will give the players greater incentive to get a deal done, and while the league actually has LESS incentive now, I believe they will strike while they can, and use the court's ruling to force some consessions out of the players that they otherwise wouldn't have been able to.

Hopefully, a deal is reached in time for a season this year, and with the players suddenly having greater incentive to get something done, that seems a bit more likely.